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“Coconuts Oil Revisited”

("The Cocommunity" - Monthly APCC Newsletter
Volume 45, Series No. 8, 1 August 2015)

It has taken over a century for a 360 degree revolution in change of opinion about saturated fats that would in the next decade be practically converting consumers, changing priorities of food manufacturing companies and more importantly impacting every mother’s kitchen with the positive facts endorsed on which fats are the real risk to heart disease, and which ones are not. Did the well-known nutrition researcher make a mistake in the 1970s with the famous Seven Countries Study? Were the initial epidemiological studies also incorrect in associating saturated fats intake with heart disease risk? It appears they may have judging from recent articles flooding health news pages through social media, the Harvard Health Publications and official releases from the fats and oils organizations.

Heart disease risk is attributed to high cholesterol to which medical science has categorised the types of cholesterol. LDL (low density lipoprotein) is referred to as the bad cholesterol as it contributes to plaques that clog arteries causing cardiovascular problems whilst the HDL (high density lipoprotein) is considered good as it transports cholesterol away from artery walls contributing to reduction in risk of heart disease. Saturated fats raise HDL levels that positively counter the negative effects of LDL.

Coconut oil composes of more than 85% of saturated fats. Majority of saturated fats are the medium chain triglycerides (MCT's) of which lauric acid being the predominant fatty acid. Its fatty acids profile, however, makes it as one of the most discussed edible oils in terms of health-benefits it confers. Coconut oil composes of saturated, mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (SFA: MUFA: PUFA) at a ratio of 86.5: 5.8: 1.8 fats.

Yet the so-called ‘fat controversy’, as reported in current issue of INFORM, is far from over even though recent evidence as well as the re-evaluation of previous studies including the examination of data on fats and cardiovascular disease could not link to and questions the decades old claim that dietary saturated fats are a risk to and cause heart disease. Without conclusive clinical trials and scientific evidence, the respective governments’ and their regulatory dietary guidelines committees, such as in the USA, rely on epidemiological data and may not adopt the scientific recommendations. This may continue to place consumers at certain levels of risk and uncertainty hence the importance of conducting well-targeted research and clinical studies that are conclusive so the much-needed facts are established to guide food safety policies and related regulatory standards.

A gathering of physicians, nutritionists and experts of food health and safety, in a first-time event will convene during 28-29 September 2015 in New Delhi for the International Symposium on Quality Coconut Oil for Nutrition and Health, to determine whether further studies are needed in relation to nutrition and health aspect of coconut. The assurances from the findings of the studies are not necessarily only for commercial purposes but more importantly to dispel negative claims against coconut oil so that in the first instance over 40 million families in the world that grow and live under a coconut tree together with millions more that drink and eat coconut are rest assured of their wellbeing.

Consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) has increased seven-fold in 10 years as indicated by export data received from the Philippines. VCO production is also increasing income for coconut farmers in India as reported recently. Global production continues to increase as more countries move into VCO processing.

APCC is glad to announce the proposed theme for 2nd September World Coconut Day to be ‘Coconut for Family Nutrition, Health & Wellness’. Let us all take this opportunity to promote the goodness of Coconut.
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